“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”

— Toni Morrison

Andrew Ramsammy

Despite being a person of color, I was never taught about Juneteenth. I became aware of the date, the horrible delayed history, and the celebration of that day that would follow, only when I moved to Texas several years ago.

And that is why it is so special that, 156 years later, we acknowledged that day last week by launching a new website and newsletter for LMA’s Word In Black.

Word In Black is a groundbreaking collaboration of the nation’s leading Black news publishers. It promises to confront inequities, elevate solutions and amplify the Black experience by reporting, collecting and sharing stories about real people in communities across our country. We believe that by joining forces and providing a platform to examine these experiences in one place, we can shape how the nation understands and addresses systemic issues of race, justice and equity. It is through collective understanding that we bring about collective impact. Word in Black is part of the Fund for Black Journalism, administered by the Local Media Foundation.

After six months of hard work, Word In Black now has a world-class website, email newsletter and contribution/membership platform. Each week the newsletter will feature stories that focus on solutions to racial inequities in America. Most weeks we’ll open the newsletter with a strong opinion article from one of the 10 publishers in the collaborative.

This Black coalition of the willing has withstood the test of time, weathered the storms, and stands ready for what could be the intersectional crisis of our generation — combatting the tsunami of misinformation that disproportionately affects communities of color.

That is why collaboration is so essential. Thanks to generous support from the Google News Initiative, for these projects LMA hired two of the greatest and brightest companies out there disrupting the news landscape: Get Current Studio and News Revenue Hub. Hiring them is one thing, but when you zoom in on the actual Zoom calls, these companies’ own diversity speaks to the undergirding driving our industry’s change from within.

All of this is to reclaim space for lived experiences, and voices from within communities long underserved by mainstream media. One of those voices, more timely than ever, is Patrick Washington, chief executive officer of The Dallas Weekly.

Published without missing an issue for more than 60 years, The Dallas Weekly has emerged as the leading trusted voice of the African American community in North Texas. To inaugurate our Word In Black newsletter, Patrick provided his perspective as only he can. No reader can deny the raw emotion and power of his words; yet, for far too long our industry has overlooked. And as America reckons with its past, the future continues to remain precarious for publishers of color, like Patrick and the nine others in Word In Black.

But what if the key to unlocking journalism’s future comes with not editing the past but returning missing keys to locks that we never opened? And that is our commitment here at LMA: To provide our publishers with the tools, resources, training, and financial investment, to meet the demands of our ever-changing world, using collaboration as a great equalizer.

Word In Black’s vision is bold: To be the most trusted news and information source for, about and by Black people. However, we invite everyone invested in the future of Black people — whether you’re Black or not — to join us on this journey and make this work possible. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter and follow our progress. We’ll be sharing our learnings with the industry over the next year. If you are inspired by our work, please consider supporting us financially.

And if you have an opportunity to join an industry collaborative, we hope you will take advantage and experience the many benefits.